April 2008

The NAI is offering 3 scholarships to graduate students or postdocs, studying in the US, to attend the 2008 MedILS Summer School on Life in Extreme Conditions. This session, held from August 3 - 9 in Split, Croatia, will provide a venue to share current knowledge and develop new ideas and research projects around the topic of life in extreme conditions. The main focus of the school is on the evolution and maintenance of life in habitats such as eternal ice, hydrothermal vents, the bottom of the ocean, salt lakes, or other planets. Leading international lecturers will inform the participants about the latest developments and theories.

As part of its celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding, the Space Studies Board (SSB) has expanded the scope of the Space Policy Intern program it has operated since 1992 by initiating the Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships. The goal of the program is to provide promising undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to work in the area of civil space research policy in the Nation's capital, under the aegis of the SSB.

Yuri's Night is an international celebration held on April 12 every year to commemorate the launch of the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space and the launch of the first U.S. Space Shuttle. NAI Central staff, along with several Astrobiology graduate students who were in town for AbSciCon, co-hosted an exhibit with Electronic Arts (EA) at Yuri's Night 2008 at Ames Research Center, which drew a crowd of over 7,000 people.

Report: Managing Space Radiation Risk in the New Era of Space Exploration

"For astronauts, however, there is one danger in space that does not end when they step out of their spacecraft. The radiation that permeates space-- unattenuated by Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere--may damage or kill cells within astronauts' bodies, resulting in cancer or other health consequences years after a mission ends."

Drug protects mice, monkeys from radiation damage, Reuters

"An experimental drug helped protect mice and monkeys from the damaging effects of radiation, researchers said on Thursday, in a finding that may lead to less toxic cancer treatments or an emergency treatment for radiation exposure."

An Agonist of Toll-Like Receptor 5 Has Radioprotective Activity in Mouse and Primate Models, Science (subscription)

"... Supported by grants CA75179 and AI066497 from NIH and grants from NASA (U.S. National Aeronuautics and Space Administration)"

Santa Clara, California, April 1417, 2008

The 5th Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon08), hosted by the SETI Institute, brings together a community of scholars, students, and educators that is as vigorous and intellectually diverse as ever. These qualities are reflected in the content of this volume, which includes 647 abstracts involving 1,683 authors from 28 countries. These abstracts are organized into 38 topical sessions and 6 plenary sessions that were developed around the three major themes of the conference: the astrophysical and planetary context for life; the origin and evolution of life; and the search for life in our Solar System and beyond. An astounding range of subjects is covered--from prebiotic chemistry to cosmology, with stops at virology, Precambrian geochemistry, and Mars exploration, among other subjects, along the way. Presenta- tions on engaging students, teachers, and the public in astrobiology thread throughout the conference, reflecting its broad appeal. Clearly, the community is healthy and poised for a vibrant future!